Saturday, April 26, 2014

Shawn and I are leaving in an hour to go spend the weekend on the island.  J is staying home and looking after the dogs (except Fee, who will come with us) and having girlfriends over.  Everyone likes this arrangement (except quite likely, the dogs, who would rather not be left home).

This is not just a holiday, although it is the first time Shawn and I have been able to go away together in a very long time.  It is a fact finding mission.  We are looking with different eyes now and asking ourselves specific questions.  Where would J go riding here?  Where would we want to live?  Where would we go hiking?  Where would we shop for groceries?  That kind of thing.

I am hoping it will bring some kind of clarity - to both of us - about whether or not we are going to make this next move.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

counting days

I am struggling with being at work right now.  It is astonishing how overnight a place can go from feeling like home to feeling hostile and awful.  I do not want to be there, not at all.  Each day I force myself to go, but it hurts.

On top of my personal drama, the union and government are back at it, and we are in job action.  Again.  A couple of weeks of truculence aimed at administrators is where we begin, and then progress to rotating strikes, which are likely to interrupt the rehearsal process for my play.  The play I do not want to work on any longer.

I held a meeting with my actors yesterday and told them about the possibility of their play being derailed.  I also told them with great candor that I am falling apart, a bit, and do not have the energy to carry them.  We voted on how to proceed.  Secretly I hoped they would vote to cancel the show, but bless them and their actor spirits, they voted for The Show Must Go On! so we went on with rehearsal. And true to their promise, they worked hard enough that I could focus on holding myself together, something that is presently requiring most of my energy.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

We are thinking, seriously, about making a huge life change.  New city, new careers, new everything.  Again.  It is scary every time we do this.  But every time so far we have been okay.  Seems like things are lining up in ways it is time to move on.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

This morning RDub offerrd to commit a small murder on my behalf.  I thought this was surprisingly chivalrous of him, but on second thought it occurs to me that this is one of the reasons I like him so much.  The fact that he is unnecessarily large, a big voice, big unruly hair, big hands.  Big convictions, big commitments.  I like these things in men - against my will.  Against my cultivated desire to be independent and self-reliant, instinctually I am drawn to these cave men who want to protect me by clubbing aggressors over the head.  I do not really want RDub to commit a felony on my behalf (because I want to do it myself), but I really appreciated his offer.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nothing from LF.  Nothing from Union Lady.  Nothing from Big Union Guy.  Nothing from Staff Rep.  Nothing from admin.  Nothing nothing nothing.  Nothing.  Nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing.

All this scheming is making me tired, really tired.  I hate thinking this way, plotting how to convince people to do things I want them to do without pushing them too hard.  Trying to get information without asking too many times, without making a pest of myself.  It all feels dishonest and gross.

Carolyn says I need to take the reins out of Crazy Sue's hands and just decide what I want for myself.  This would be easier to do if the reins weren't in her hands in the first place.  Why are they there anyway?  When I get hung up on the wrongness of that part it becomes paralysing and I get all bitter and negative.

I am still not sure how I want to proceed here, how to grab the reins, but it becomes increasingly tempting to quit teaching altogether and strike out in a new direction.  A direction that is union-less and won't force me to consort with lunatics if I don't want to.  And it is scary to think about that new direction because it is new and unpredictable.  But still, maybe it is the way to go.

I am waiting to see if LF contacts me or not.  Yesterday she was gungho about filing another harassment charge, but I am finding that although people say that, when it comes down to doing it, they lose their balls somewhere.  LF is my last hope at this plan, and after that I think I am out of ideas for grabbing the reins directly out of Crazy' Sue's hands.  After that it will just be about finding my own direction away from her.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April was too lonely a month to spend alone.  In April, everyone around me looked happy.  People would throw their coats off and enjoy each other's company in the sunshine -- talking, playing catch, holding hands.  But I was always by myself.

-- Murakami, Norwegian Wood


Saturday, April 12, 2014

wash my illusions away

Yesterday Carolyn told me that she is going, today, to the funeral of a friend who died from cancer.  The friend was a singer, and the cancer she developed was a tumour that attacked her face, eating its way through her sinus cavities, her mouth, eventually parts of her brain.  Not only was she unable to sing, but to breathe normally, to eat or drink.  To be normal in any way.  Carolyn talked to me about how the death of her friend was a relief, an end to her friend's mortal suffering.  I agreed.  I talked to her about my sister's emotional suffering, and how I felt, in many ways, the same about her death.  An end to her pain.

Then Carolyn blew me out of the water by saying she believes in eternal life, and that she believes her friend - and my sister - are now not only out of misery, but happy, and in a better place.  It surprised me so much that Carolyn said this because she is the sort of woman I would have assumed was more pragmatic, more scientific about this sort of thing.  Actually, it always astonishes me when adult people who have obviously had time to separate their own values and beliefs from their parents', and especially when those adult people are intelligent, rational, and thoughtful, tell me they believe in life after death.

Somehow, from a very young age, I convinced myself that only Americans, stupid people, and dying people believe in the existence of an afterlife.  (Sorry, American friends.)   Something like that, something that made me superior because I had been strong enough to swallow the Hard Reality pill.

But the older I get, the more I run across adults that I respect, admire, and know are highly intelligent, who are able to reconcile the existence of God with their open minded, well informed, and intelligent interpretation of the world.  My father is a scientist.  Yet he also believes.  How?

This conflict struggles to the surface of my consciousness every so often, particularly when I am feeling alone.  I feel jealous of people who take genuine solace and comfort in their faith.  I want to know how to abandon my cynicism and embrace faith.

When I talk about this with Shawn, he becomes immediately defensive.  God is a trick.  Religious people are mindless drones.  I am not sure why his lack of faith keeps him safer, but it does.  Mine makes me anchorless.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Someone else on my staff has decided to file a harassment complaint against Crazy Sue.  Apparently she didn't just save her psychosis for me.  Well, I am not really surprised to learn that this is true, but surprised to learn that someone else is willing to speak up, finally.

This may go nowhere, but it is the best shot I seem to have at the moment.  Perhaps with mounting evidence of a problem, the employer can finally give this woman the boot.  Inshallah.


Thursday, April 10, 2014


Things have been sloppy since Monday.  Tueday, I had a doctor appointment, which turned out to be a stroke of good luck because I was certainly in no mood to go to work.  The doctor appointment turned out to be a waste of time because the receptionist who booked it didn't book it properly and so it was only meant to be two minutes long.  So I seized the opportunity to get my birth control and allergy medications renewed without having to get on the table.  But it means I still have to go back some time soon, which is aggravating.

I spent the rest of the day reading my mother's book, of which she finally sent us a couple of copies.  It was a difficult read, obviously, and given my frame of mind, I was extra weepy.  Weepy in spite of the fact of being amused by how she portrayed me in the book.  Some of the statements and attitudes she attributed to me struck me funny, and her memories of some events were different from mine.  But in those situations I always try to remember that memory is an imperfect thing and I am just as likely to have to have the faulty memory as she is.  Maybe.  Regardless.  I said goodbye to my sister again, mourned her through my mother's eyes, and mourned my mother's experience too, which reflected the situation from a mother's perspective, different, of course, from mine.

Yesterday I returned to work to find a note from my substitute teacher outlining all kinds of idiotic shenanigans that my students pulled while I was away.  Never one (in the past) to send kids to the office, preferring to deal with things myself, this time I found myself completely empty and exhausted.  "Get out," I told the kids who were listed in the report.  "Go to the office and don't come back".  With the rest of the class I was a thundercloud, demanding to know why they persisted in supporting the idiotic behaviours of their peers, and when they sat in stony silence, I turned my back on them and did work on my computer, leaving them to concoct plans to save the situation.

To their credit, they did, and came up with some suggestions of things they would commit to doing to improve their classroom climate.  I listened (reservedly) and accepted their apologies.  Frankly, I expect things to return to chaos in a few days.  For some reason, this semester, my classes are populated primarilily with kids who hero-worship dead gangsters and long to be thugs.

Throughout the day I communicated with my union through email, regarding my stupid situation and wondering why I want to keep this damn job anyway.  The union, predictably, wasn't interested in helping.  They are only capable of using the collective agreement to fuck me, not to help me.

At the end of the day I was called to a meeting with my principal who said she wanted me to know that she does want to keep me, respects my teaching skills, blah blah blah, and the only reason she has to do this is because she has no choice.  I told her I was tired of getting fucked by people who are too weak to fight for the right thing, and she looked appalled, and asked what I wanted from her.  I told her I wanted her to fight to keep me if she meant any of those things.  And then she said she would.  I have grave doubts about this statement because she is a climber, not a fighter, but whatever.  In the end she said she could guarantee that I would stay in the school if I was willing to teach other things besides what I am trained to teach.  Whatever.

So that's where it all stands, half in the trash.  And it makes it difficult to spend any more energy on things that seem so futile.  Maybe I need a medical leave myself, as that seems to be the best way to get protection from our useless union.  Maybe if I was the kind of person who fell to pieces and became an emotional invalid every time something bad happened, they would find me worthy of receiving their assistance.

Cynicism feel gross.  I've said the word fuck a lot the last few days in casual conversation.  Whatever.


Monday, April 07, 2014

daily things

Looks like Crazy Sue gets the last word.  Even though she is on a stress leave, and has been for almost a year now, the union requires her job to be protected in case she ever decides to return.  And that leaves me without enough students to have a full job next year teaching Drama.

So I have two choices.  One is to let admin piece together some kind of patchwork dogshit teaching assignment made up of remnants that they can't get anyone else to teach.  Or I can apply out to other schools and find something else.

Both these choices are lousy; typical union nonsense protecting Crazy Sue because she has seniority regardless of the fact that she is:
- a horrible teacher
- disinterested in teaching Drama
- on a fake sick leave to avoid dealing with being disciplined
- a horrible human being

It is very disheartening, and in particular upsetting because my new principal is a robot who really does not care about people's feelings as long as she has the right numbers in the right columns.  She delivered the news with no empathy, just the facts, and demonstrated no interest in fighting this stupid union bullshit.

So now what.  I'm not sure yet, but I know it doesn't motivate me to put much effort into finishing out this year positively.  I just want to quit.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Students at my school are required to complete 40 hours of "work experience" (volunteer work) in order to graduate.  Some of the placements are fantastic and some aren't.  Yesterday one of my students started telling me why he never completed work experience at the assigned time, and why he had to start over because he got fired.  He began by telling me how he decided to sit down when there were no customers in the store.  Apparently this was not allowed.  His manager said… (He:  Oh wait, I'm not sure I'm allowed to say this.  Is it okay if I swear?  Me:  Yes, go ahead.  Don't worry about it.)  … His manager said, "Why don't you stop fucking the dog?"

He looked so perplexed when he said this to me.  What could the manager have meant by that?  He wasn't fucking a dog, obviously.  He was just sitting on a crate.  He could see how the resulting argument ended in his dismissal, but why the manager accused him of having sexual relations with a dog was still a mystery.

Apart from the fact that this manager was obviously a power hungry asshole talking this way to a fifteen year old, as lazy as that fifteen year old might seem, this story was utterly delightful to me.  English is a wonderful language, isn't it?


All my dreams since returning home have been set in Europe.  This must mean I am still processing the experience, sorting the memories into files and putting them away.  Spring weather (with plenty of rain) has arrived and we have been hiking a lot.  I keep comparing the vast empty woods with the crowded shops and narrow streets of Spain, both of which have an appeal to me.  But it helps me know I am home here.  I value the green.  I treasure the quiet and the emptiness and the space too much to live anywhere else.

(beautiful) narrow streets in Europe

(beautiful) open spaces in Canada